Anthony's Film Review
Star Wars - Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)
An OK start for the Star Wars saga, mainly affected by a 16-year hiatus...
When I saw the trailer for Star Wars - Episode I: The Phantom Menace, I was very excited. As someone who just got into the original Star Wars trilogy a few years before, I looked forward to a new installment to the classic series. The hype was so intense that many fans bought a ticket to a movie just to see the trailer before leaving. It's rather strange, but amusing, to see how far the fans would really go sometimes. Then, the long-awaited day came and I went to see the movie, only to be somewhat disappointed that the whole movie was not what I had anticipated.
The story actually consists of two separate plots. One is a drawn-out political drama involving the invasion of Naboo, a senate hearing to determine if the invasion is legal, and the two Jedi (Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor) escorting Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman) to Coruscant. The other is a limited plot involving the discovery of Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd), his hobby of pod-racing, the Force that's strong with him, and the decision to train him as a Jedi. I found myself wondering which was supposed to be the main plot of the film. Overall, it didn't do much to introduce the backstory of Star Wars. I would have liked it if it focused on Anakin more, showing his behavior both as a gifted boy and one with a temper that hints at the Dark Side's eventually influence on him.
The characters are OK. It was nice to see familiar characters, including Yoda, R2-D2, and a younger Obi-Wan Kenobi. Queen Amidala is not a bad character since she is beautiful and also a bold leader. Anakin may be a boy, but I expected him to be portrayed as a boy with a special gift of some sort, like amazing bravery. Then again, he is credited for helping out his allies in a space battle. My biggest complaint regards Jar Jar Binks. The Star Wars films have a little humor provided it's not overdone. The problem is that Jar Jar is too silly, making the film too comical to be as breathtaking as the original Star Wars.
There is no doubt that the special effects are excellent. Despite that, it doesn't leave me in much awe as the first Star Wars because the special effects were absolutely extraordinary for its time. However, I do like the scenery, spaceships, droids, and creatures. The CGI, though it's so commonplace in film today, does a great job bringing it all to life. If I had to pick my favorite scene from the film, it would have to be the lightsaber duel between Darth Maul, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Qui-Gon Jinn. The combination of special effects for the weapons, the choreographed fight moves, and the sweeping choir music create a very exciting scene that sticks to the minds of many fans.
The film was a disappointment seeing it the first time, but it's not really that bad considering everything else. The events of The Phantom Menace do lead to further events towards the formation of the Galactic Empire and the rise of Darth Vader. If only they didn't emphasize Anakin's Darth Vader shadow in the movie poster. It seemed like false advertising. Nevertheless, The Phantom Menace can still be a fun film to watch and is still important to the Star Wars saga as the other entries.
For more information about Star Wars - Episode I: The Phantom Menace, visit the Internet Movie Database.
In addition, check out my reviews of the following:
Main Star Wars Films
Other Star Wars Films